Ryan Shawcross has told Stoke he is ready to reject the opportunity to rejoin Manchester United because he does not want to part with his manager and mentor, Tony Pulis.
Stoke have offered their 25-year-old captain a record-breaking six-year deal, said to be worth £14m, and Shawcross confirmed that he has no wish to leave the Britannia Stadium, even though it means committing himself to a team never likely to be better than mid-table in the Premier League.
Only six weeks ago, the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said that he wished Shawcross was still at Old Trafford and doubted his wisdom in letting Pulis sign him for £1m in January 2008. But the 6ft 3in centre-half is clear that he wants to repay Pulis for the faith he showed in him then and for turning him into an England player.
"The talks are ongoing and we are not that far along yet for me to say it has been agreed in principle, but the main thing is that I want to stay and Stoke want to keep me," Shawcross said.
"Ultimately, it is up to my agent and the club to sort it out but I've told them I want to stay and the main reason is the gaffer. He's been great to me throughout my time here and made me captain at a young age. I've told him I want to stay here, even if a top four club comes in.
"I feel like he's improved me every year. He got me into the England squad, which has been a goal of mine, and it showed a Stoke player can get into the England squad, which has been an issue."
Shawcross helped Stoke to their seventh clean sheet of the season as Dean Whitehead's goal gave them a fourth win in five matches on Saturday.
WBA: MYHILL 6/10, REID 7, McAULEY 7, OLSSON 6, POPOV 7, DORRANS 7, MULUMBU 7, ROSENBERG 5, YACOB 6, GERA 6, LONG 6
Stoke: BEGOVIC 7, CAMERON 6, HUTH 7, SHAWCROSS 7, SHOTTON 7, ETHERINGTON 6, ADAM 6, NZONZI 7, WHELAN 7, WALTERS 6, K JONES 8
Goal: Stoke City Whitehead 75. Subs: WBA Lukaku 6 (Rosenberg, 64), Odemwingie 7 (Gera, 64), Brunt (Yacob, 81). Stoke City Kightly 7 (Etherington, 59), Whitehead 7 (Adam, 64).
Bookings: Stoke City Huth, Adam, Shawcross. Man of the match K Jones. Match rating 6/10.
Possession: WBA 52%. Stoke City 48%.
Attempts on target: WBA 11. Stoke City 4.
Referee K Friend (Leicestershire). Att 24,739.